Freeing roads and footpaths from the grabbers seems difficult as time advances. The government has ordered the authorities concerned to take steps to free roads and footpaths from the grabbers within 24 hours. But it is not being implemented. Footpaths are getting grabbed moments after the eviction drive ends. Such kind of power display of the grabbers indicates that there is a powerful hand behind them.
Officials of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) conducted an eviction drive last month in order to free roads and footpaths from the grabbers in Gulistan area of the capital. An unpleasant incident was also seen to happen following the drive. But we notice that hawkers have taken the possession of the footpaths within a span of only 24 hours. The DSCC mayor then alleged that it is not being possible to free footpaths only because of a handful of police members. It is they who help hawkers occupy the footpaths. The DSCC mayor himself is seen to blame law enforcers in this regard which is a matter of concern as well.
A Supreme Court lawyer on October 31, 2016 served a legal notice on the police officers concerned to implement in 24 hours the High Court directive that had asked them to free roads and footpaths from Zero Point to Sadarghat in the capital. Following a writ petition by an organization four years back, the HC on February 26, 2012 ordered the police to take steps in 48 hours to facilitate easy movement of people and vehicles on the roads and footpaths from Zero Point to Sadarghat.
It ruled that the authorities have to ensure that nobody will keep sand, rods and other materials, parked rickshaw-vans and carts and establish makeshift shops by occupying the road and footpaths and asked them to submit a progress report on the implementation of the order to the court in every 30 days. Writ petitioner sent the legal notice to the officers-in-charge of four police stations, saying that the HC order has been reportedly flouted by them.
A contempt petition was moved before the High Court against the OCs as they did not take steps to implement the 2012 HC directive to free the roads and footpaths from Zero Point to Sadarghat. The organization moved for the court again as the OCs did not reply to the notice sent to them.
The capital has 163-km footpath. Of them, 108 kilometers of footpaths are under the control of around 2 lakh hawkers. Traffic jam in the streets is one of the main problems in this busy city. Movements of vehicles are being hampered as makeshift shops are set up in most parts of the city roads. Again, passers-by barely get chance to use footpaths due to traffic jam. So no business can be allowed to run by grabbing footpaths and keeping passers-by in the suffering.
Again, the government should take measures to rehabilitate those who are doing business in the footpaths for their livelihood before planning to evict them. Otherwise, the eviction may turn into dire situation.
We hope the government will take steps to free roads and footpaths for the interest of people. No politics over footpaths should be allowed. We believe the government will take stern actions against those involved in helping grab the roads and footpaths.
risingbd/Dhaka/Nov 09, 2016/Shahed/Amirul